Archive for the ‘Kitchen Hints’ Category

Kitchen Hint: Baking with parchment paper

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Strained lard in parchment paper-lined mold

by Catherine Haug, March 19, 2017 (photo, right by Cat and Shelli, for our tutorial on rendering lard)

This hint comes from Janet and Edd Blacker of our core team:

“We have found that using parchment paper on cookie sheets and other pans in the oven when baking things works great.  No sticking and it makes the pans easier to clean.

It’s important to use actual parchment paper, not waxed paper for several reasons; read on for those and for other kitchen uses of parchment paper. (more…)

Kitchen Hint: Homemade laundry soap for HE (high-efficiency) washers

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Kirk’s Castile bar soap

By Catherine Haug, February 12, 2017 (image, right from Amazon (1))

Back in 2013 we had a gathering with Sheree Tompkins on Homemade Laundry Soap. Her recipe can be used in standard or HE (high-efficiency) washers because it is a low-suds recipe. This posting offers another HE option, from Wellness Mamma (2).

Like Sheree’s recipe, this one also requires grating a bar of real soap, such as Kirk’s Castile pictured above, Dr Bronner’s Pure Castile bar soap, homemade soap (see also Gathering Summary: Making Soap at Home, by Kathy Mansfield, January 26, 2011). Fels Naphtha is an old-fashioned option but has some questionable ingredients if you care about the environment.

Also included is Wellness Mamma’s borax-free laundry cleaner (two ingredients added separately to the washer). (more…)

14 Uses for Castor Oil at Home

Saturday, October 8th, 2016
Scott & Bowne's 'Palatable Castor Oil' advertisement

Scott & Bowne’s ‘Palatable Castor Oil’ advertisement

By Catherine Haug, October 8, 2016 (image, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

In the 19th century, castor oil was a common remedy in American homes (see old advertisement, right), but its use has fallen out of favor, perhaps in part because people have become aware of the notorious killer, ricin (which comes from castor seeds but is not present in the pressed oil). The FDA has categorized the oil as  “generally recognized as safe and effective” (GRASE) for over-the-counter use as a laxative (4).

Mercola (1) suggests we all should keep a bottle of castor oil at home (1). Most uses of this oil are topical (on skin and hair), but it is also used internally to treat constipation. It is advisable to keep it out of reach of small children.

Fighting pests without hurting the environment

Sunday, August 7th, 2016
From Wikimedia commons


by Catherine Haug, August 8, 2016

(Image, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Keeping pests under control can be frustrating, especially in the garden. Doing so without harming our environment can be even more so, as many recommendations just don’t work well and we may resort to toxic herbicides/pesticides.

The Summer 2016 issues of Environment Defense Fund newsletter has an interesting article by Jim Motavali on this topic, which I paraphrase and enhance here. (more…)

Kitchen Hint: Best treatment for cuts and scrapes

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

By Catherine Haug, June 11, 2016

This kitchen hint comes from me, but I was reminded of this by Mercola’s newsletter (1).

When I was a kid in the 50s, one of the most common treatments for a child’s cuts and scrapes was mercurochrome, a tincture in a dropper bottle. It was very effective against bad microbes, but was eventually banned for over-the-counter sales because of the dangers posed by the heavy metal mercury it contained. Mercury, along with lead and cadmium are the most common toxic heavy metals known to damage the body.

After that banning, moms turned to hydrogen peroxide; it is also a very effective antimicrobial substance, but is it the best treatment for cuts and scrapes?

Kitchen Hint: Clever & quick way to peel garlic

Friday, February 5th, 2016
Garlic bulbs

Garlic bulbs

By Catherine Haug, Feb 5, 2016 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

This hint comes from Keith Blaylock, who participated in our panel presentation on Raising Chickens and Rabbits, and gave a wonderful presentation on Making Beer at Home.

Keith writes, “I don’t remember where I discovered this hint but I use it all the time.  It is about peeling garlic cloves:”

Simple way to peel raw garlic cloves

  1. Rub the light papery skin off the cloves.
  2. Put them into a small stove-top pan, with the lid on (do not heat);
  3. Shake the pot vigorously for 30 seconds, then open the pot to see your garlic cloves are completely peeled!
  4. Most of the peels stick to the pot so you can pour the whole cloves out onto the cutting board.  This process does not appear to bruise the cloves at all.
  5. Discard peels into compost bin and you are done!